Special Report

Best States for Healthy Retirement

30. Montana
> Pct. 65+ w/ disability: 40.8% (11th highest)
> Pct. 65+ obese: 22.1% (8th lowest)
> Flu vaccine in past year, 65+: 65.5% (12th lowest)
> Life expectancy: 78.3 years (24th lowest)

Heart disease is the leading cause of illness and death among elderly Americans. Treating certain risk factor such as high blood pressure can help lower the risk of heart disease. Still, only 90.6% of retirement age Montana adults with high blood pressure actually take their prescribed treatment medication, one of the lowest shares of any state and well below the 94.0% national average.

29. New Jersey
> Pct. 65+ w/ disability: 33.2% (4th lowest)
> Pct. 65+ obese: 24.8% (22nd highest)
> Flu vaccine in past year, 65+: 65.7% (14th lowest)
> Life expectancy: 79.8 years (8th highest)

Retirement age adults in New Jersey are less likely on average than their counterparts across the rest of the country to take precautionary health measures, such as getting a flu shot or receiving screenings for certain cancers. Despite the relative lack of preventative medicine, life expectancy is higher than average in the Garden State. Life expectancy in New Jersey is 79.8 years, roughly a year and a half longer than it is across the country.

28. Michigan
> Pct. 65+ w/ disability: 38.1% (23rd lowest)
> Pct. 65+ obese: 27.3% (7th highest)
> Flu vaccine in past year, 65+: 67.5% (25th lowest)
> Life expectancy: 77.8 years (15th lowest)

Obesity is more of a problem among Michigan’s elderly population than it is for senior citizens across much of the rest of the country. Obesity is a risk factor of several chronic conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and arthritis. In Michigan, 27.3% of residents 65 and older are obese, a considerably higher share than the national 24.3% elderly obesity rate.

27. North Carolina
> Pct. 65+ w/ disability: 39.7% (19th highest)
> Pct. 65+ obese: 24.6% (24th highest)
> Flu vaccine in past year, 65+: 69.7% (14th highest)
> Life expectancy: 77.4 years (13th lowest)

North Carolina’s elderly are more likely than most older Americans to experience mental distress and physically unhealthy days. Healthy behavior can play a major role in quality of life, and North Carolina elderly residents are less likely to lead healthy lives. The 9.3% smoking rate among retirement age adults in the state is a full percentage point higher than the national rate. Similarly, only about a third of the state’s oldest residents eat the recommended daily amount of fruit, one of the lowest rates in the country.

26. Delaware
> Pct. 65+ w/ disability: 39.0% (24th highest)
> Pct. 65+ obese: 27.6% (4th highest)
> Flu vaccine in past year, 65+: 66.9% (20th lowest)
> Life expectancy: 78.1 years (20th lowest)

Adults 65 and older in Delaware are about as healthy as the typical elderly American in many measures of healthy behavior and outcomes. Still, there are some considerable differences. With 88.3% of elderly women saying they had a mammogram in the past two years, state elderly women are far more likely than most to be screened for breast cancer. However, the state ranks among the worst in the country for elderly obesity with 27.6% of adults 65 and older obese, a far greater share than the corresponding 24.3% national rate.

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